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Afghan Woman Granted Visa For April Speech In Salem

OPB | March 24, 2011 4:28 a.m. | Updated: July 17, 2012 1:05 a.m. | Portland, OR

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The State Department has granted a visa to an Afghan woman scheduled to speak at Willamette University in a few weeks. 

Malalai Joya was elected to Afghanistan’s parliament in 2005. She’s a published author and was preparing for a U.S. tour when her visa application was denied.

Marva Duerksen is a Willamette Associate professor who arranged for Joya’s appearance.

Marva Duerksen: “Their reasons were that she’s unemployed, and she lives underground.”

But Duerksen says Joya’s suspension from the Parliament in 2007 was for political reasons. She says Joya keeps her profile low for security reasons.

People who want to hear her speak complained to the State Department and signed an online petition on Joya’s behalf.  State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said the case was handled as a standard procedure, and that the initial rejection came with an invitation to re-apply.

Joya is now expected to keep her commitment to speak in Salem April 3rd.

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